Councilor Report 18 Dec 2021-18 Jan 2022
Happy 2022! I am honored to have been elected to our village council, and will strive to serve our community as best I can. In that spirit, I plan to provide information regarding council discussions, to hopefully provide context to decisions that are recorded in the official minutes.
On 18 Dec 2021, I attended my first council meeting. There were several discussions for which I would like to add context:
- Main park projects: estimates were received by Eugene Dugan for the community shelter siding replacement and door installation, and for the building of rock/concrete stairs on the path to the lake front area (the path that ends near where the trail along the lake begins). These estimates were reviewed at the meeting and approval given to move forward. As a note, the village receives annual MSI funding that can only be spent on projects meeting specific criteria (capital projects), like these ones, so our taxes are not affected with these activities.
- Improvement of communication to our community members:
All council meetings are open to the public. To make it easier for those in our community to listen to the meetings, we will be trying out Zoom as a platform to facilitate remote participation. We have been told that internet signaling is not the best in Ross Haven (where some council meetings take place), so no guarantee it will work. But we will try. When the next meeting agenda is posted on the website, it will include a zoom link, as well as instructions and limitations for public participation.
Fingers crossed it works. If not, we’ll try something else.
- Speaking of the website, Dennis will be providing the site administrator contact info to our Mayor, so that some updates can be made more quickly. Please let us know if there is information that you would like to see added to the website to make it more useful.
- Emergency Management: Renee and Peter Jackson have stepped up as the Village’s Director and Deputy Director Emergency Management, respectively. These roles require considerable training, some of which Renee and Peter have already done, as well as ongoing efforts to ensure we meet the standard safety requirements for villages. One of the things that will need to be in place is a mechanism to reach all village members, in the case of emergency. Much discussion was had regarding potential ways to collect contact information, including sending “permission to contact” forms with tax notices or on a separate mail-out, having a sign-up table on Canada Day or other well-attended community event, perhaps a notice to contact on the website, or a mix of methods. Stay tuned regarding this, and how the info will be kept secure.
- Beach Cleanup Committee: Sandra Lambertus, Renee Jackson, and Tara Preston presented a substantial plan related to a federal grant opportunity, including photos and well-researched background information. This grant is available to non-profit and non-government organizations, and could possibly be pursued through the Birch Cove Community League. The grant is specific to waterfront areas, and must focus on both fresh water health and shoreline cleanliness and stability. The minimum request for this specific grant is $25k (max $100k), and matching funds must come from the community over a maximum 3-year period (some can come from work done in-kind, similar our playground grant). The grant application has a submission deadline of 11 Jan 2022.
- Per the plan presented:
- The bulk of the grant funds would be spent on the old boat launch, removing dead trees and concrete, and building a visually appealing and safe jetty using stones and riprap
- Plans would include supply and installation of a canoe/kayak launch.
- Plans also included sludge removal from the shoreline, on both sides of the dock/jetty.
- Of note, the use of hand tools to clean the sludge is allowed following submission of a letter-of-intent/application to our regional representative, Paul Sandhu. Regardless of decisions made on the grant, we will go ahead with this if we have the volunteer resources, and a mechanism to remove sludge as needed.
- Hydrosweeps are not regulated and no application or letter of intent is needed to use these tools. Council will explore options in a future meeting, including exploration of potential safety risks, equipment costs, yearly installation, ongoing maintenance and removal each year.
- Follow-up of grant application: several discussions between councilors took place after the council meeting, to explore all possible sources of match funding. Ultimately it was decided that the funds required were too high to source on short notice. The beach committee was informed. Going forward, council will discuss having some funds set aside for special projects/future grant opportunities, with input from the rate payers.
- Regarding the waterfront area, there was discussion regarding the trees directly east of the playground and green space. It was previously discussed that removal of some of these trees would provide additional play space in the summer months, and better storage space for dock pieces and lifts in winter. Sandra and Renee requested a moratorium on tree removal until this could be further discussed, due to concern that the loss of trees along the shoreline could lead to erosion. Clarification was provided by Councilor Dugan that the tree removal would not include those closest to the water nor the trees along the trail. Council will follow-up to see what the required/recommended tree line width from clearing to water’s edge should be.
Lastly, I’d like to comment on the recent bouts of snow and freezing rain. Ours is small village with limited resources and we are typically “in the queue” for maintenance activities, like plowing and sanding. We do the best we can to expedite needed services but the reality is that some things take more time than any of us would like.